I constantly crave chocolate chip cookies and other sugary foods. How can I break my addiction?

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Story Updated: Aug 7, 2013

The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sugar consumption to 7 percent or less of our daily caloric intake -- that's about six teaspoons (100 calories) for women and nine teaspoons (150 calories) for men. If you find yourself reaching for sugary foods and regularly exceeding those limits, you may need to take steps to curb your cravings.

Sugar "addictions" are similar to other type of addictions, says Jenny Patrizia, The Sexy Nutritionist. She recommends sitting back and thinking about why you always go after sugary foods. Consider whether it's a physical or mental addiction and try to solve the root of the problem as much as possible.

Next, remember that it takes roughly 21 days of consistently doing the same thing in order to break the habit. So follow these tips for at least 21 days.

Tips on how to break your sugar habit:

1. Get rid of everything in your pantry that has sugar in it, especially foods containing the following: cane sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn sugar, dextran, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice, fruit juice, lactose, malt, sucrose, sugar and turbinado sugar

2. Never shop for groceries when you're hungry.

3. Add more protein and fiber to your diet.

4. Eat healthy fruits such as strawberries to balance your sugar levels.

5. Eat small meals every 3 hours. This will help you avoid your sugar levels spiking or dropping, which causes these cravings.

6. Use natural sweeteners: Honey, agave, blackstrap molasses,
barley malt syrup and maple syrup are all good alternatives to sugar.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com